CL Group A Recap: Bayern v Napoli 3-2

An excellent first half ended with an extremely unnecessary goal against, a scrappy second half almost ended with one of the weirdest goals Bayern have scored in years. In between: cards and injuries.

Neither team’s lineup really surprised anyone. Jupp Heynckes decided to let Jerome Boateng play as right-back, Walter Mazzarri preferred Camilo Zuniga over Andrea Dossena as the left flank’s wing-back.

Napoli’s formation on the other hand sometimes resembled a back four of three center backs and one wing-back (Campagnaro, Fernandez, Aronica, Zuniga). Whether that was a good or bad idea is arguable but Napoli’s defensive system looked pretty solid. Until Gomez happened.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, after temporarily switching positions with Toni Kroos, moved between the lines, a Napoli defender (I think it was Campagnaro) lost track and left him with enough space to control the ball. Kroos’ pass to Gomez wasn’t bad but it looked like Aronica had him marked. And he did, for a second. One feint with the right foot and Gomez went past the defender with the ball placed for a shot with his weaker(?) left foot. The striker said thanks and beat Morgan de Sanctis with a hard shot. 1-0 Bayern, not necessarily deserved at this point but that would change soon.

Napoli lost control now, Kroos and Ribery (who was all over the pitch) continued to exploit the spaces between the lines. About 5 minutes after the first goal, Toni Kroos had the ball under control, looking for an unmarked teammate. Gomez showed him where he wants the ball to arrive and Kroos delivered. No offside, easy finish, 2-0.

Now it looked like the guests are collapsing. A difficult Gomez shot closely missed the target, Franck Ribery’s shot was saved by de Sanctis and, ultimately, Gomez scored his third of the night. A random but at the same time lovely combination between Ribery, Müller and Kroos resulted in a shot on goal that was saved by the keeper but the German MG converted the rebound. The best thing about this goal: Gomez’ deliberate move to deny his direct opponent any chance to prevent the goal by falling down while shooting the ball. 3-0. Deserved. That was it, the match was decided.

Was it? Boateng shoved Cavani, a late present for arriving in Munich, and the following free-kick was headed home by Federico Fernandez. With seconds to go in the first half, Napoli tasted blood. Everybody knew that this meant the match was anything but over unless Bayern could control possession and make the upcoming 45 minutes as boring as they can.

Bayern could, for 5 minutes. Then something terrible happened. Gökhan Inler tried to beat Bastian Schweinsteiger in the air when they collided. Nothing special, it seemed, until it was obvious that Schweinsteiger couldn’t get up and continue playing. The midfield maestro sustained a collarbone fracture (although I still don’t know how that happened, the collision looked harmless) and will most likely miss the next six weeks, it’s doubtful whether he can play another match this year.

Bayern now not only lost one of the most important players, they also lost control. Gustavo and Tymoshchuk were able to stop many attacks but unable to keep and redistribute the ball, to dictate the pace. As a result, Manuel Neuer regularly hoofed the ball forward, hoping that Mario Gomez wins the battle in the air and initiates an attack.

After some time, Toni Kroos dropped back to take over control but that didn’t help as much as one was hoping for. Zuniga’s stupid challenge against Ribery, not even a minute after being booked, resulting in being sent off for a second bookable offense, appeared to finally be the setback for the Italians the hosts were waiting for. Bayern couldn’t take advantage of it, though, and equalized when Holger Badstuber was sent off after what seemed to be a Cavani dive.

Luiz Gustavo now had to act as second center back. This obviously didn’t help Bayern’s lack of midfield control, at all. Napoli attacked and scored, again Fernandez, again a header. The last ten minutes fortunately weren’t as wild as the 30 before. David Alaba replaced an exhausted Franck Ribery and even had the chance to score the deciding goal. With only seconds remaining, the Italians were awarded a corner kick. Morgan de Sanctis joined the attack, Bayern cleared the ball and Mario Gomez decided to shoot the ball from deep into his own half (estimated 70m) but de Sanctis who was storming back to stop that shot did so at the last moment.

That was it, a deserved but way too uncertain win for Bayern. Since Manchester City easily beat Villarreal, the qualification to the round of 16 isn’t official yet. One more point, either at home v Villarreal or in Manchester, is enough.

Goals:

  • 1-0 Gomez (17′)
  • 2-0 Gomez (23′)
  • 3-0 Gomez (42′)
  • 3-1 Fernandez (45′)
  • 3-2 Fernandez (79′)

Subs:

  • FC Bayern:
    • Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Schweinsteiger, 53′)
    • David Alaba (Ribery, 80′)
  • Napoli:
    • Andrea Dossena (Aronica, 42′)
    • Goran Pandev (Dzemaili, 84′)

Team stats (Bayern-Napoli):

  • Ball possession: 66% – 34%
  • Shots taken: 17 – 7
  • Corner kicks: 6 – 5
  • Fouls committed: 16 – 18

Leading player stats (Bayern-Napoli):

  • Shots taken: Mario Gomez (6) – Fernandez/Lavezzi (2 each)
  • Fouls committed: Gustavo/Kroos/Ribery (3 each) – Blerim Dzemaili (5)

Other Champions League matches:

  • Villarreal v Man City 0-3 (Yaya Toure x2, Balotelli)
  • Trabzonspor v CSKA 0-0
  • Inter v Lille 2-1 (Samuel, Milito; Tulio)
  • Benfica v Basel 1-1 (Rodrigo; Huggel)
  • Man United v Galati 2-0 (Valencia, Sirghi OG)
  • Lyonnais v Real Madrid 0-2 (Ronaldo x2)
  • Ajax v Zagreb 4-0 (van der Wiel, Sulejmani, de Jong, Lodeiro)
  • Genk v Chelsea 1-1 (Vossen; Ramires)
  • Valencia v Leverkusen 3-1 (Jonas, Soldado, Rami; Kießling)
  • Arsenal v Marseille 0-0
  • Dortmund v Olympiakos 1-0 (Großkreutz)
  • Zenit v Shakhtar 1-0 (Lombaerts)
  • APOEL v Porto 2-1 (Ailton, Manduca; Hulk)
  • BATE v Milan 1-1 (Renan; Ibrahimovic)
  • Plzen v Barcelona 0-4 (Messi x3, Fabregas)

Next match: Sunday at Augsburg (Bundesliga), 5.30 pm

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